Thursday, March 24, 2011

Follow-up Meeting with Rep Jared Polis Office

On March 8th I met with Rep. Jared Polis staff at his Washington DC office in the Cannon Office Building. I submitted four "asks" relating to US policy about Israel's oppression of Palestinians. On Tuesday March 29th I've got an appointment to meet with Staff at the Congressman's Boulder office. We will be discussing Jared's thoughts and response to the asks and especially his views regarding Israel's apartheid of Palestinians.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Michael on Capitol Hill -- Palestine Asks

Rep. Jared Polis – Palestine Policy Asks”, March 8, 2011

Michael Rabb

2002 18th Street

Boulder CO 80302


1. Amendments to the FY2012 Budget Request for Military Aid to Israel

We ask Members of Congress to offer amendments to the budget/appropriations bill to condition military aid to Israel to prevent U.S. weapons from being misued, as detailed in enclosed memo.

  • In February President Obama sent his FY2012 budget request to Congress, which included a record-breaking $3.075 billion in military aid to Israel. The Fy2011 budget, which has not yet been passed by Congress or signed by the President, includes $3 billion in military aid to Israel.

  • The United States cannot afford military aid to Israel. The website documents how much military aid Colorado and the 2nd Congressional District will be providing under the terms of the 2007 agreement between the United States and Israel, and what that money could fund instead to promote affordable housing, green jobs training, education programs, and health care access. Please take a look at the numbers. The research shows that military aid to Israel comes at a price that we cannot afford.

  • Military aid to Israel does not work to promote a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. In fact, it does just the opposite, by literally “fueling” the conflict (as documented in a 2009 Amnesty International report). Israel routinely misuses U.S. weapons in violation of the Arms Export Control Act to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians and to maintain its illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. These weapons were misused by Israel to commit violations of human rights and international law, war crimes, and possible crimes against humanity before, during and after “Operation Cast Lead,” according to the UN-backed Goldstone Report. Since September 2000, Israel has killed more than 3,000 unarmed Palestinian civilians, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, often with U.S. weapons.

  • Since the United States cannot afford military aid to Israel, and since Israel routinely misuses U.S. weapons in violation of U.S. law, U.S. military aid to Israel should be conditioned. Our proposed amendments to the budget/appropriations bill include: conditioning aid to Israel on its freezing settlements; ending the siege on Gaza; restricting the use of U.S. weapons to within Israel’s sovereign territory; and investigating prior misuses of weapons (please see enclosed memo for details).

2. Letter to Secretary of State Clinton Requesting AECA Investigation of U.S.-supplied Tear Gas

We ask Members of Congress to send Secretary of State Clinton a letter asking for the State Department to investigate Israel’s possible violations of the AECA through its misuse of high-velocity tear gas canisters and other “riot control equipment.”

  • Members of Congress have a responsibility to ensure that the laws they pass are followed. When a country misuses U.S. weapons in violation of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), the State Department is obligated by law to open an investigation and report its findings of violations to this law to Congress.

  • The AECA restricts the use of U.S. Weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.” Israel misuses U.S.-supplied tear gas canisters and other “riot control equipment” to crack down on peaceful protests led by Palestinians, and often supported by Israelis and international citizens in solidarity with them. Several U.S. citizens have been killed after being hit with the canisters, and a number of Palestinians have been killed after being hit with the canisters or inhaling the gas. Each individual case detailed in the template letter enclosed.

3. Letter to the Internal Revenue Service Requesting Investigation of 501c3 Organizations

We as Members of Congress to send a letter to the Inspector General of the IRS asking it to investigate organizations that support illegal Israeli settlements.

  • Israel has established 150 settlements, populated by a hal-million Jewish Israelis, in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem in contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of civilians to occupied territories. The State Department concluded in a 1978 legal memorandum that these settlements are “inconsistent with international law” and the Obama Administration has repeatedly called them “illegitimate.” The continued expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements cast doubts on the viability of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Non-profit organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as 501c3 organizations are supposed to be charitable and educational in nature. However, many 501c3 organizations exist to support Israel’s illegal settlements and operate in ways counter to IRS regulations to finance their distinctly non-charitable purposes. Individuals donating to 501c3 organizations are allowed by law to take a tax-deduction. Therefore, money going to these organizations deprives the U.S. Treasury of badly needed tax receipts.

  • Members of Congress have a responsibility to ensure that charitable organizations are not fraudulently taking advantage of the tax code to funnel money to non-charitable purposes that conflict with IRS regulations, U.S. law and policy, an international law.

4. Support for the Global BDS Movement for Palestine

I ask Representative Polis to support the Global Movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel’s apartheid of Palestinians.

  • The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories continue to suffer under Israel's illegal and immoral regime of military occupation, colonization and apartheid.

  • The University of Colorado invests millions $$$ in companies that support the Israeli apartheid. These companies profit from Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Some of the companies provide weapons and covert surveillance supplies that support occupation by force. Others take or exploit Palestinian resources, including scarce water and even the land itself. These companies are profiting from Israel’s violations of international law and international human rights standards.

  • There is serious concern among the University community that the University’s investments in these companies violate the University of Colorado’s commitment to human rights and social justice.

  • Please send a letter a letter to the Board of Regents, University of Colorado requesting they initiate a study to evaluate which of the University’s investments support Israeli apartheid and take steps to divest from such investments. (See template attached.)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

University of Vermont Asked to Divest

Burlington Free

By Tim Johnson, Free Press Staff Writer • Saturday, March 5, 2011

A new divestment proposal, targeting companies that reinforce Israel's foothold in Palestinian territories, has begun making its way through the University of Vermont's lengthy review process.

The proposal calls for the university to withdraw endowment funds from all companies "contractually involved in, and directly profiting from, the occupation of Palestine." Palestine is defined as land that includes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The companies in question would be those that supply products or services to the Israeli military or to Israeli settlements in the territories.
Drafted by emeritus research professor Ian Stokes and endorsed by UVM Students for Justice in Palestine, the proposal will be the subject of a March 17 public forum sponsored by UVM's Socially Responsible Investing Work Group. That group -- comprising trustees, faculty, students and staff -- handles the initial screening of all formal recommendations for tailoring UVM investments to social and ethical concerns.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh to Speak in Boulder March 7

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Distinguished Palestinian scientist, human rights activist,
and author of the recently published book
Popular Resistance in Palestine:
A History of Hope and Empowerment,

will be presenting 2 events:

On Monday, March 7, 4-6 PM
Lecture, “Popular Resistance in Palestine and the Arab World: Winds of Change,”
CU Boulder, Eaton Humanities, Room 250

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Monday, March 7, 7:30-8:30 PM
Book signing, Boulder Bookstore
1107 Pearl Street (On the Pearl Street Mall)

Sponsored by: The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Middle East Collective; the CU Peace and Conflict Studies Program; the Center for the Study of Conflict, Collaboration, and Creative Governance; the CU Faculty Federation. For information, contact 303-444-6981, ext 2.